Antonia's 30-day yoga challenge
Lifestyle / September 16, 2012

Antonia’s 30-day yoga challenge


Antonia_photoAfter a terrible accident that left Antonia severely injured long-term, she describes how the 30-day yoga challenge at The Power Yoga Company helped her find the focus and determination to overcome the limitations of her injuries and strengthen and energise both her body and spirit.

“Last July I flipped a quad bike whilst doing a wheelie. It wasn’t my finest moment. Eleven months later, with two operations behind me and one pending, and with the acquiescence of my physio, I decided to accept your 30-day yoga challenge.

From the start, I knew it was going to be hard.  That pose, Savasana, the relaxing one, where you lie like a kipper on the mat, was profoundly uncomfortable. The haematoma in my left buttock that had been the size of a grapefruit pre-op had now subsided to the size of a tangerine: smaller but still painful to lie on. The alternative relaxing option of Child’s pose made my dislocated shoulder shriek. Moving into Downward Dog, my thrice broken ankle ached and the knee waiting to be operated on would either refuse to bend or refuse to straighten depending on the time of day and the weather.

I was too self-conscious to put up my hand at the beginning of each class when the teacher asks if anyone has any injuries. I mean, she would have been there all day listening to my tales of woe. So I just shut up and concentrated on trying to follow the flow of all the yogis around me.

The first few days were hideous. I would move like a broken toy and the only relief I felt was when I finally exited the class and returned to work. I had also decided to kick my caffeine habit at the start of the challenge and the accompanying headaches were terrible. My work colleagues couldn’t bear me and my husband kept well away from me whenever possible. But slowly, slowly, my body started to ease. The headaches subsided and my injuries began to improve very slightly.

Seven days in, I found I was able to walk down the street pain-free for about two minutes. My physio was impressed. The yogis on the mats surrounding me were less impressed, I imagine, by my continued failure to hold anything resembling a balance. I would flail around, completely unable to manage a Tree, an Eagle, a Warrior Three and when trying to perform a lunge and twist around, I would just keel over.  The only pose that I could manage was a shoulder stand but I was so appalled by the stomach flab that waved down towards my gaze when I was inverted, that the joy of achieving this pose was severely diminished.

But two weeks in, I was able to balance for a few seconds in each pose albeit flapping my arms like a disconsolate bird to try and stay upright. But a few seconds. The only bonus to this continuing hideousness was that my skin started to look much better. It was smooth and the crows’ feet lessened considerably. I also started feeling much more buoyant as I went about my daily life. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, given the extent of my accident, I had suffered a severe bout of clinical depression. The anti-depressants help me as does the summer weather (?!) but I think the yoga played an enormous role in lifting my spirits and my mood. My husband started liking me again and my work colleagues found me manageable.

By week three, I felt tired but found that I could get out of bed in the morning without my left ankle collapsing. I could walk for five minutes pain free and no longer ached for coffee. Although the lunging twisting pose still defeated me, I could hold a Dancer’s pose for about seven seconds and Downward Dog brought me a little respite. The result of doing 21 days of yoga on the trot had meant I’d lost a bit of weight too and my stomach now looked less terrible when I was inverted in my shoulder stand.

Day 30 and I felt like a resurrected woman. My ankle can support my weight, my knee has been strengthened and is ready to be operated on, my skin is radiant and I’ve lost weight. My left buttock is still a mess but I’m storing a lot of dead tissue in there, so it’s not surprising. I stand up straighter, am cheerful most of the time and my clothes fit. My husband sent me some flowers the day after I completed the challenge to congratulate me and urge me to continue. And so two days later I was back on the mat and you will be seeing me on a regular basis from now on.”